My career began with aspirations of becoming a science illustrator. I received a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Tech, majoring in biology and minoring in art. While I did have a work study position as a biological illustrator during college, I became more interested in painting and fine art while spending a summer abroad in Italy doing watercolors and visiting art museums.
My art making started to expand across many disciplines while living in an artists’ housing complex in Paterson, NJ, from painting and drawing to printmaking and sculpture in graduate school at Rutgers University where I received a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1992. Immediately following graduation, I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to research the fine and folk art traditions of southern Poland, from which my family first came to the United States. While living in Krakow, Poland, for eleven months, I produced lithographic prints in the Art Academy there.
Returning to the States, computer technologies were just emerging for artists. I purchased a Macintosh and did free-lance illustration to make a living while adjunct teaching on the East Coast. My first digitally produced artworks merged traditional art methods such as sculpture and silkscreen with new mediums such as digital video and Photoshop collage.
In 1996 St. Cloud State University’s Art Department offered me my first tenure-track teaching position in studio art/design/computer graphics. I took it and learned to cross-country ski and to canoe. As a member and former President of the Nordic Ski of Central Minnesota, I have produced a set of digital maps of local trails in the region and design a club newsletter every few months. In the year 2000 after a few residencies and exhibitions that explored mankind’s cultivation of nature in places such as ski trails and national parks, I received a prestigious Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship for creative merit. This large grant enabled me to continue to produce new works for a full year, and I explored creating some soul searching digital drawings in Photoshop and some collaborative video and animation work. In addition, I tried to move into new terrain, learning computer programming and basic interactivity in art. Integrating fine art making and the potential for interactivity and randomized animation through computer programming has been my passion in my work and my teaching for much of my time in Minnesota. Referencing the natural world and how we as humans engage in it has provided much of the subject matter for my art.
For the bulk of my career I have been mixing media together to create installation-based work. Early on, I studied painting and drawing, then during my master’s I worked in sculpture and printmaking, then installation and performance art while learning about Fluxus art at Rutgers. Many times digital drawings generate ideas for works that are actualized in physical form. One pivotal experience for me recently was designing Winter in Summer - Ice Fishing House, a playable mini-golf hole created for the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis, for the Walker without Walls program, in 2004. The work was played by 27,000 people and had to withstand the elements as well as plenty of golf swings. It was first designed as a quick sketch and was later fabricated out of lumber, plywood, plexiglas and astroturf. I carved and painted the fish beneath the “ice” and engineered a kinetic ball retrieve for the transparent hole.
Beginning with the outdoor Walker Art Center piece, most of the art pieces I have been making require human interaction for the work to be fully realized. Whether designing a mini-golf hole so folks can get a hole-in-one and reel in a walleye, enabling individuals in a gallery to output their onscreen flora and fauna design as a postcard keepsake, or setting up a motion-triggered video installation, I gain a sense of fulfillment when a work has some sort of physical presence but even more importantly, when an audience can physically interact with it.